A YORK bus firm has unveiled the measures being taken to ensure people can social distance on board public transport in the city.

First York has moved to reassure passengers about the safety of bus travel with new measures including a passenger counting facility and fewer available seats to ensure the safety of customers and employees alike.

The most visible sign will be on board where passengers will be clearly directed to only use seats that are at an appropriate distance from each other. This will reduce the capacity of each bus by over 75% and seats will be clearly marked on all First York vehicles by Monday, May 25.

To help drivers, over the next few days there will be a facility added to the ticket machine, which is on each bus, that allows drivers to count passengers on and off and which advises them what, if any, available capacity remains. Where a bus is full, the driver will show a “SORRY BUS FULL” display on the destination screen.

Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, said: “Our priority is and always has been ensuring passenger safety on our bus services. Social distancing measures are being introduced across our buses this week to ensure the safety of our colleagues and customers.

“Our buses will be operating at a reduced capacity with around 1 in 4 seats available, but we will continue to monitor usage trends closely. Passenger levels in York remain low and we expect to manage capacity effectively.

“We are in a position to provide double decker buses on the busiest journeys and have available a number of duplicate buses ready to add to routes where appropriate to try and provide the best service possible for essential travel.

"We are continuing to work closely in partnership with City of York Council to manage frequency and services as lockdown is gradually eased.

“Enhanced daily cleaning of touchpoints throughout the bus, and at selected stops during the day, continues.

“And we are committed to keeping customers informed of the latest travel advice and information through our website and social media alongside signage across our buses.

“We would ask for people’s patience with our drivers and the support team during these challenging times as we adapt our service provision around the Government’s guidance. Together we can all play a crucial role in getting the region back on its feet again.”

Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Executive Member for Transport, said: “City of York Council are working with the bus operators on how to achieve social distancing at bus stops. We will be displaying the standard NHS information posters about public transport use across the network. We have identified a number of busy bus stops where detailed measures will be worked up. These will ensure more space is available for queueing passengers.”